Travelling by bicycle is a combination of discovery and adventure rolled into one. You experience some major differences when compared to backpacking or travelling by car/bus or aeroplane. Here are just some of the reasons why we think you should travel by bicycle.
There are so many benefits to experiencing the world on a bike.
Why travel at all?
We have been asked many times along our journey why we travel. For Australians, it’s almost a rite of passage these days, but for some cultures, it’s a very foreign concept.
People who traverse great distances might respond by saying that they want to see beautiful landscapes, experiences different cultures and meet people from different backgrounds. Bicycle touring is the method to see all these things in their real form, not overshadowed by towns who cater to tourism.
You can witness incredible landscapes without the tourist crowds.
A cycle tourist doesn’t hop from city A to city B, only stopping at the main attractions you’re told to see. Instead, they’re immersed in the culture, the people and the natural surroundings of the country.
If you’re looking for authentic experiences, cycle touring is one of the few ways to do this while you travel.
Escape the crowds and tour buses, and immerse yourself.
1. You get to meet more people
Being on the bike means you are limited on space, so you can’t carry a lot which includes food and water. This means you are forced to stock up on these supplies every day. We’ve been in many situations, where we’ve needed to find water, or to find a place to set up our tent, that has forced us to rely on local people for help. These situations are often a blessing in disguise as the local people are usually fascinated by why we’re in the town and where we’ve come from.
We remember one time when we were cycling through Tajikistan at the start of winter. The wind was howling all day and it was getting worse as a storm approached. We couldn’t find a camp spot and time was running out before the rain came. So, we asked at a nearby house if we could camp the night in their yard. The owner, using sign language, gestured into the house that we could stay the night in his home with his family. They were a beautiful family with three young children.
That night they served us a traditional Tajik dinner, we played music, we tried to learn the Tajik language in return for some English and talked as much as possible using sign language. This is just an example of how cycle touring leads you into situations where you’re immersed in the local culture. It gives you the chance to meet and connect with locals, and discover the real nature of the country.
Connecting with people along the way has been a highlight for us.
2. It allows you to challenge yourself
Depending on your type of travel, you can make bicycle touring a personal challenge to accomplish endurance and strength goals. We have climbed snow-covered mountain ranges greater than 4000m by bicycle, reaching temperatures of minus twenty degrees. A scary thought for Australians who are used to averages of about 10 degrees in winter.
A touring trip is a great way to challenge yourself.
Cycle touring has more covert challenges too which can be more difficult than the physical side such as being forced to cope under extreme pressure and fatigue.
Have you ever wanted to test your resolve? How would you react after 8 hours of cycling in the wind and rain to have to sleep on rocky ground, and then find out that some of your waterproof bags aren’t fully waterproof? The only way to discover is to test yourself while cycle touring.
Cycling will test your resolve.
3. It provides you with moments of bliss
Imagine this situation: you have been cycling for hours and you’re starting to feel fatigued as the lactic acid builds due to the rolling mountains you’ve travelled through all day. The sun is past noon and you are feeling the drowsiness that comes before the afternoon cycle siesta.
You haven’t seen much all day as the road has been covered by a dense and humid tropical forest. Then, to your right, there’s a break in the ridgeline which exposes the tree lines, vines dangling like a broken cobweb.
In the distance is a huge lake engulfed by the steep surrounding mountains. It’s beautiful…you stop, astonished by what you have seen and suddenly the feeling euphoria dissolves through you. Anything that was hard that day is washed away, and you know exactly why you started bicycle touring in the first place.
This moment of ecstasy hits you regularly whilst cycle touring. It can be on the easiest day you’ve had or even on the hardest, but when it does happen, it’s bliss.
Despite the challenges, there are moments of bliss you won’t forget.
4. It’s your personal Uber
If you travel by bicycle means you literally have your own form of transport. It’s a great feeling knowing that when you’re in a town/city, you can get everywhere on your bike without paying for taxis or uber rides. You also won’t have to deal with a series of confusing public transport systems in another language.
Enjoy free transport on your bike everywhere you go.
5. Cycling is environmentally friendly
Compared with other forms you could consider bicycle touring to be a ‘green’ way of travelling. By cycling from place to place you don’t use fuel as your legs do the work. Your carbon footprint is minuscule in comparison to other travel, not to mention that you buy food from local markets reduces the need for single-use plastics.
Cycling has a minimal impact on the environment.
Additionally, due to the minimalist nature of cycle touring you don’t consume unnecessary products, so that must be good for the environment, right? So, there you have it. Bicycle touring, it’s environmentally friendly and a unique way to experience the world when you’re travelling.
What’s the most rewarding physical challenge you’ve ever done?
About the writer...
Hi, we are Teagan and John a cycle touring couple who have been bicycling from Malaysia to England since March 2018. We believe that bicycle touring is one of the best ways to travel and we are excited to provide advice for other adventurous travellers who want to experience the world by two wheels. Follow our adventures at jttouring.com